Don’t Give Away The Ending: The Basics of Whiteboarding for B2B Sales
The Article in 60 Seconds
Instead of using a pitch deck, consider getting on your feet, grabbing a few markers, and building your B2B sales presentation on a dry erase board. We spoke with Richard Ellis to discover the philosophy taught by DSG Consulting.
- Improve customer engagement
- Provide flexibility for the sales team
- Build credibility
- Enable sales through marketing
Think About This
Only 3% of salespeople are considered trustworthy by customers, so building credibility is more important than ever. HubSpot Research
“[Salespeople] are lucky if they retain 20% of what was presented” in product feature training. The Science Behind Whiteboard Selling
Over 90% of whiteboarding viewers stay engaged, while 50% of PowerPoint watchers intermittently leave during a WebEx. Corporate Visions
Introducing Richard Ellis
We recently sat down with whiteboarding advocate Richard Ellis, a consulting principal at DSG Consulting. With over ten years at DSG and a career’s worth of operational experience, plus practical consulting experience in sales, marketing, and sales operations, Richard has a solid background in marketing and insight into making that critical connection with customers.
We have adapted this article from content developed by Richard and DSG.
What is Whiteboarding?
Whiteboarding is nothing new, but it’s still a novel approach to a sales meeting because so few companies are using it — and even fewer can close the sale. Your marketing team can support your sales team by helping build frameworks, language, and simple drawings that can be replicated in the field.
Whiteboarding vs. Presentations
Whiteboarding is a powerful method that naturally enables you to come alongside and begin to equip your potential customers instead of merely pitching them. As you build your thoughts and arguments on the whiteboard, they will see you and your product as part of their team.
QUOTE: Pitch decks talk at customers. Whiteboarding allows for collaboration.
How do you know if your customer is engaged in your presentation?
They lean forward.
If you’re reading slides from your PowerPoint, you will miss your audience’s cues and body language. By leading your customers on a whiteboard, you help them navigate the process. They will see their problems and the road to your solution come to life. You become a navigator. And you stay eye-to-eye with your customer.
A whiteboarding experience prevents your audience from being so busy reading or trying to comprehend what’s on the screen that they miss what you’re saying. They won’t be fully engaged with you.
Likewise, if you are tied to the order and content of your presentation, you can’t read your audience. With whiteboarding, you can go deep where they need to go deep or skip ahead to their most pressing concern that emerges in your conversation. A slideshow presentation can split your audience’s attention and compromise the effectiveness of your message. Whiteboarding can be tailored to each sales conversation on the fly.
Story is built into our DNA as humans. Your audience will follow the plot and long for the next part and ultimately the ending. Their attention will be on you, the storyteller.
In general, sales people are not considered credible by customers. Sales people don’t improve their odds of breaking this stereotype with a generic PowerPoint and script.
For your sales team, the process of learning the whiteboard presentation drives the content deep into their minds. When they present the material, whiteboarding allows them to stimulate more of the audience’s senses and learning styles.
Since your sales team will be conveying factual information they’ve learned in their own way, when they draw it and lead the room, the customer believes them. Whiteboarding is a natural catalyst for building credibility.
Not An Artist? No Worries
“Wait a minute, I’m not an artist. I can’t draw.”
Not everyone is a natural whiteboardist, and that’s okay. If you can draw triangles, circles, straight lines and squares, then you can whiteboard.
Put your marketing team to work to create simple whiteboard analogies to help translate the sales message during the process so they are not just drawing random pictures. Perhaps even a simple framework will work for your needs.
Start with the ending visual—the one you want to leave in your customer’s mind when the meeting is over.
Focus on 5-7 basic movements or steps that will lead to that final picture. Make sure the first one or two illustrate your customer’s objectives, pain points, needs, and priorities.
Confirm your assumptions with the customer before moving on to the next step, which makes the process interactive and engaging.
Once the basic visuals are in hand, collaborate with the sales team to hone the presentation. Bring every presenter together in the same room with multiple whiteboards available. Have the team take turns with some playing customers and others walking through the whiteboard presentation. Everyone will need this practice to get comfortable with talking and drawing —and most importantly listening to the audience — at the same time. This allows your team to develop the skill of whiteboarding. It leads from stumbling to mastery.
Revealing one step or process at a time builds anticipation and a kind of tension, the good kind. Remember that your buyers are on a journey; be sure not to rush to the ending. Having a plan for your meeting and whiteboarding ensures the big reveal will come at exactly the right time.
Involving marketing in the sales preparations is key to ensuring the conversations in the field are on message. Marketing can provide guidance with messaging content and graphics.
The First Thing to Do After Reading this Article
Go into a conference room and attempt to adlib your product pitch using a whiteboard and a marker. Does this method have potential for your team? Your product?
Your customers don’t want a sales pitch; they want to have a conversation with a partner.
Following the basics of whiteboarding can facilitate that connection.